Fast forward 20 years or so. And over the holidays, a funny thing happened on the way to a different airport...
This time, I looked a bit deeper into the programs. I'm sure there are a lot of great programs around the country (and world- although I confess to being ill informed about programs in other countries (and am just becoming somewhat literate about those in the USA).
I thought other folks might enjoy what I've discerned as the requirements- or at least what seems to be the typical requirements at a community-college level program. (There are "professional" programs at for-profit schools, Spartan being one of the leaders, I believe. And a number of 4-year programs, Parks College being the one I am most familiar with. But there seems to be more 2-year programs, some offering the training/certificate for only the A&P license, although most offer an associates degree with only a few more classes required).
As I understand it, there are three parts of an "Airframe and Powerplant" license (certificate, actually, although all the other unknowing non-A&Ps like me seem to universally refer to it as a license); the "General" (math, physics, blueprints, FAA regs, etc), the "Airframe", and the "Powerplant". One can obtain and Airframe, or a Powerplant, or an Airframe and Powerplant certificate.
The requirements for the certificate can be met with either work experience or academic training. The work experience is 18 months for either the Airframe or Powerplant, or 30 months for both. The academic training option is the General plus Airframe, or General plus Powerplant, or all three for the full "A&P". These are the requirements to be eligible to take the FAA written tests, after which one takes an oral exam, and a "practical" (hands-on) exam which is administered by a DME (Designated Mechanic Examiner).
I would think military experience would be one way to meet the experience requirements, and probably a number of jobs at an airframe manufacturer or "mod shop". (One challenge might be over-specialization though- perhaps some readers can shed light on this avenue).
The academic route consists of 1900 hours of supervision and instruction. Not including breaks. That's a pretty fair amount of time. (The "General" portion is 400 hours, "Airframe" is 750 hours, and "Powerplant' is 750 hours). For a four-year program, with two 16-week semesters, that's 3 hours per day x 5 days per week x 16 weeks x 2 semesters per year x 4 years. Make that 3.5 hours per day or so, to include breaks. Or, for a two-year community college, that's 7 hours per day or so, including breaks. Or shorter days, but more of them, if one includes Saturdays and the summer terms.
Where I live, the program is offered during the day, and during the night, as a five term program, with three 15-week terms per year- one "General", two "Airframe", and two "Powerplant" terms. The day class meets 7AM - 3 PM, Monday through Thursday; the night class meets 4 PM - 10 PM, Monday through Friday, with appropriate breaks to make it 25 hours of classroom and "lab" time per week. Any absences must be made up, down to the minute, so it's a pretty demanding schedule.
Here's the list of classes, in the normal order they are taken, at the community college (A&P(with associates degree)/vo-tech (old terminology, I suppose; the A&P certificate only).
|Session 1 (15 weeks)||23 credit hrs|
|Physics & Aerodynamics||2|
|Maintenance Publications, Forms & Records||2|
|Mechanic Privledges & Limitations||1|
|Ground Operation & Service||2|
|Weight & Balance||2|
|Materials & Processes||4|
|Fluid Lines & Fittings||1|
|Cleaning & Corrosion||1|
|General Review & Test||1|
|Session 2 (15 weeks)||23 credit hrs|
|Aircraft Coverings (Fabrics)||2|
|Sheet Metal & Non-metallic Structures||8|
|Assembly & Rigging||4|
|Aircraft Fuel Systems||2|
|Hydraulic & Pneumatic Systems||2|
|Session 3 (15 weeks)||25 credit hrs|
|Aircraft Landing Gear Systems||4|
|Position & Warning Systems||1|
|Aircraft Electrical Systems||6|
|Fire Protection Systems||1|
|Aircraft Instrument Systems||1|
|Ice & Rain Control Systems||1|
|Cabin Atmosphere & Control||2|
|Communication & Navigation||2|
|Airframe Review & Test||4|
|Session 4 (15 weeks)||26 credit hrs|
|Engine Fuel Systems||1|
|Auxillary Power Units||1|
|Session 5 (15 weeks)||24 credit hrs|
|Engine Instrument Systems||1|
|Engine Fire Protection Systems||1|
|Engine Electrical Systems||2|
|Ignition & Starting Systems||3|
|Engine Lubrication Systems||3|
|Engine Cooling Systems||1|
|Fuel Metering Systems||4|
|Induction & Airflow Systems||1|
|Engine Exhaust & Reversers||2|
|Powerplant Review & Test||4|
|Optional Courses to complete A.S. Degree||18 credit hrs|
|Social Science Elective||3|
|General Elective 1||3|
|General Elective 2||3|
So what if you don't have time for the classes- but If you're like me, the topics sound really interesting? Home study won't do much to geting a A&P certificate, but flipping pages at the community college bookstore was interesting. Here's a reading list, which seems to compose (I think:) the entire booklist of one typical A&P curriculum. I've listed the prices at the JuCo (yeah, that's another oldie term) bookstore. Sometimes on-line is cheaper, sometimes, a little higher. In general, I like to support the brick and mortar stores.
FAR/AMT 2010: Federal Aviation Regulations for Aviation Maintenance Technicians ($25)
Ac 43.13 - 1b/2b Acceptable Methods, Techniques, and Practices of Aircraft Inspection and Repair ($25)
The Aviation Dictionary for Pilots and Aviation Maintenance Technicians ($21)
Aviation Mechanic Handbook ($15)
Aircraft Electricity and Electronics ($110)
Aircraft: Basic Science with Student Study Guide ($62)
Aircraft: Powerplants with Student Study Guide ($110)
ASA General Test Guide 2010 ($14)
ASA Powerplant Test Guide 2010 ($14)
ASA Airframe Test Guide 2010 ($14)
Aircraft Gas Turbine Engine Technology ($107)
Airframe & Powerplant Mechanics Powerplant Handbook ($20)
Airframe & Powerplant Mechanics Airframe Handbook ($20)
Aviation Maintenance Handbook - General ($40)
Aircraft Maintenance and Repair with Study Guide ($110)
The whole books tab comes up to about $700 or so. Tuition at most CC's is around $100 per credit hour, which comes out to about $3000 per "term" for my local A&P school. Multiply by five terms, throw in tools for $2K and FAA exams, the total for an A&P license is probably $18K or so. I'd guess it's around double that for a private for-profit school.
The investment in time is equally expensive, especially if one is working full time: figure 70-80 hour weeks between work and school- sometimes in five days. Lot's of folks have two full time jobs (boy, do I have a lot of respect anyone doing that, or this!). Generally, loans are available to help with the financial burden. The time constraints are less easily ameliorated. Does the A&P certificate "pay off"? I would think so, over time. And it opens doors to opportunites that might otherwise be unavailable. Even at one's present job, it might be the differentiator when layoffs come, or a promotion comes along.
Plus, it looks like a heck of a lot of fun!
Best wishes to all who might be interested in an A&P program- perhaps some are currently enrolled in one. (I know several of our fellow bloggers are already A7P certificate holders).
Wikipedia article on Aircraft Maintenance Technician (AMT) Certification.
Find an A&P school near you. (Something like 170 or so to chose from in the USA).